Reading By Theme: We're Just Wild About Jane


First published in 1847, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte continues to intrigue readers to this day.  Lucky for those readers that there are many writers who have had their imagination captured by Jane and her beloved Mr. Rochester.  Here are just a few books, which at their core, were inspired by Bronte's classic Gothic romance:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Description:
Margaret Lea, bookseller and biographer, receives a letter from the aging and ailing Vida Winter.  Ms. Winter is a best-selling English author who finally wishes to tell the true story of her strange life.  Margaret is skeptical; after all, Vida Winter has given at least nineteen different versions over the years to the press.   As she relates her story, Vida tells the tale of family secrets, abandoned children, forbidden love, and more.  If this book sounds at all like Rebecca or Jane Eyre, the similarities are deliberate. 
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Description:
Grace Bradley, now 98, holds the key to the details of a poet’s mysterious suicide at Riverton Manor in the summer of 1924. When a director decides to make a movie 75 years later about that summer at the estate, Grace’s memories take her back to those early days in the service of the Hartford family. She was 14 when she arrived at the manor; World War I was on the horizon, and the Edwardian era would soon start its decline.
Only two people – sisters Emmeline and Hannah – witnessed the suicide, and the truth is about to come out. With its setting on a large English estate and a plot involving an aristocratic family covering up long-held secrets, this book fits squarely in the genre of traditional Gothics.
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Description:  
A governess in a French chateau encounters an apparent plot against her young charge's life in this unforgettably haunting and beautifully written suspense novel.
When lovely Linda Martin first arrives at Chateau Valmy as an English governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy, the opulence and history surrounding her seems like a wondrous, ecstatic dream. But a palpable terror is crouching in the shadows. Philippe's uncle, Leon de Valmy, is the epitome of charm, yet dynamic and arrogant—his paralysis little hindrance as he moves noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room. Only his son Raoul, a handsome, sardonic man who drives himself and his car with equally reckless abandon, seems able to stand up to him. To Linda, Raoul is an enigma—though irresistibly attracted to him, she senses some dark twist in his nature. When an accident deep in the woods nearly kills Linda's innocent charge, she begins to wonder if someone has deadly plans for the young count.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Description:  
Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously.
Baconians are trying to convince the world that Francis Bacon really wrote Shakespeare, there are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists, and thousands of men are named John Milton, an homage to the real Milton and a very confusing situation for the police. Amidst all this, Acheron Hades, Third Most Wanted Man In the World, steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! But that's just a prelude . . . Hades' real target is the beloved Jane Eyre, and it's not long before he plucks her from the pages of Bronte's novel.
Enter Thursday Next. She's the Special Operative's renowned literary detective, and she drives a Porsche. With the help of her uncle Mycroft's Prose Portal, Thursday enters the novel to rescue Jane Eyre from this heinous act of literary homicide. It's tricky business, all these interlopers running about Thornfield, and deceptions run rampant as their paths cross with Jane, Rochester, and Miss Fairfax. Can Thursday save Jane Eyre and Bronte's masterpiece? And what of the Crimean War? Will it ever end? And what about those annoying black holes that pop up now and again, sucking things into time-space voids . . . Suspenseful and outlandish, absorbing and fun, The Eyre Affair is a caper unlike any other and an introduction to the imagination of a most distinctive writer and his singular fictional universe.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Description:
Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.
But Gemma's biggest trial is about to begin . . . a journey of passion and betrayal that will lead her to a life she's never dreamed of.
The resonant story of a young woman's struggle to take charge of her own future, The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a modern take on a classic story-Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre-that will fascinate readers of the Gothic original and fans of modern literary fiction alike, with its lyrical prose, robust characters, and abundant compassion.
Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler

Description:
A beautifully imagined tale of the Bronte sisters and the writing of Jane Eyre The year is 1846. In a cold parsonage on the gloomy Yorkshire moors, a family seems cursed with disaster. A mother and two children dead. A father sick, without fortune, and hardened by the loss of his two most beloved family members. A son destroyed by alcohol and opiates. And three strong, intelligent young women, reduced to poverty and spinsterhood, with nothing to save them from their fate.
Nothing, that is, except their remarkable literary talent. So unfolds the story of the Brontë sisters. At its center are Charlotte and the writing of Jane Eyre. Delicately unraveling the connections between one of fiction's most indelible heroines and the remarkable woman who created her, Sheila Kohler's Becoming Jane Eyre will appeal to fans of historical fiction and, of course, the millions of readers who adore Jane Eyre.

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